The right sports bra can be the difference between a kickass workout and no workout at all.
“It is the most important piece of apparel for the active woman — a good one enables women to play sports, and sports can give women confidence in life,” says Janett Nichol, VP of apparel innovation.
Functional & fashionable
So then, what makes a sports bra good? The NikeWomen design team asked athletes, and the response was unanimous: Women want a bra that provides total support for a variety of activities and one that keeps them cool and dry without sacrificing comfort. They also want it to look as good as it feels.
Hearing these needs, the Nike Innovation team spoke up with a solution. Considering what Nike Flyknit technology does best — holds shape while facilitating precise zones of greater or less support and breathability— they had no doubt that this method of construction would be Nike’s sports bra game changer.
“Nike Flyknit allows us to be incredibly precise in a single layer,” says Nichol. The technology enables designers to engineer every stitch for specific performance benefits. Nike Flyknit, which debuted at the 2012 London games with the Nike Flyknit Racer, is a digitally engineered knitting process best known for its role in lightweight, formfitting and virtually seamless shoe uppers. Today, the technology is used in Nike footwear across sport, from the Nike Zoom Fearless Flyknit women’s training shoe to Kevin Durant’s signature Nike KD10.
600 hours of R&D
To determine how to best use the technology on high-performance apparel, engineers and designers went to work, putting in more than 600 hours of rigorous biometric testing, including motion capture and creating atlas maps — a process that involves taking a digital body scan to evaluate areas of high heat, sweat, cooling and movement. Designers reference these maps when deciding what patterns to knit and materials to use.
While atlas maps aren’t new to Nike, this was the first time the team used them to inform how they should build a sports bra. Rather than using just one map (which is typical to the way most product is created), designers combined three atlas maps—cooling, breathability and support— to determine how to devise the Nike Flyknit pattern.
“The goal of the Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra was maximum support and comfort that would allow women to feel and look amazing while doing anything they choose,” explains Nicole Rendone, Senior Bra Innovation Designer. “We prioritised support, breathability and cooling in essential zones.”
The bra is constructed with an ultra-soft nylon-spandex yarn that form fits to your body, using two single-layer panels that are assembled for a seamless feel. This Flyknit process also enabled designers to combine encapsulation (which have separate cups for each breast) with compression (which holds the breasts close to the body), offering the best of shape, support and comfort without the addition of components like wires, pads, stabilisers and elastics.
The result is a significant reduction in materials and seams: The Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra has two panels and a binding (other high-support Nike bras can have up to 41 pieces and 22 seams) and is 30-percent lighter than any other bra in Nike’s line.
The Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Bra is available on nike.com.